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Help me sell myself more effectively.
June 29, 2012 8:13 AM   Subscribe

Having trouble getting out from under the cloud of my resume. I worked in biotech for five years, and now want to transition into an advertising/design type career. I have the skills to transition, but all my work experience is routed in biotech.. what I am on paper is not what I am capable of in real life.

Cover letters help to offset this, but I find myself wanting to say "sort of disregard my work experience in biotech, and trust that I can do what I say I can do." I do run my own little web design/video production website that has a portfolio, and I do mention this in the cover letters I sent out. But should I be doing this in a drastically different way? Any tips on helping me distance myself from my biotech background? I know I will be successful in advertising/design. I just need to convince companies to give me a shot.

Just some background, I was a market research analyst in biotech with experience in project management and competitive intelligence. I would pretty much transition into any job in the advertising industry from account executive to broadcast producer.
posted by pwally to Work & Money (5 answers total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
 
You need to drastically overhaul your resume, as well as being prepared to tailor it to each job you apply for.

Try a functional format, emphasize your skills and qualifications.

I used to take each job I applied to and update my resume with the EXACT wording of the qualifiations they wanted. If they said, Advanced Degree In Marketing, I'd put Advanced Degree in Marketing, MBA. Whatever it was. This gets you through scanning software as well as to the top of the pile on the desk of the hiring person.

You need to rework your resume to stress the "synergistic" skills from your Biotech job to your new desired job.

For example, say you were a Market Research Analyst and stress all of the marketing aspects of the job. Skip anything that's not relevant to the job that you want.

Include your Web Design/Video production skills right there with the stuff you did at the Biotech company, for example:

- Designed marketing materials used by XXX number of field agents.
- Created training videos deployed to 100 field offices worldwide
- Website Design and launching

Use bullet points for your skill set and for quantifiable achievements in your past.

The penultimate part of your resume is simply a listing of your previous jobs, and the final is education.

It rather goes without saying that your resume should be well designed, using attractive formatting and fonts, but not silly looking or over done.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 8:34 AM on June 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


You know a lot better than I do what you did at your last job. But "market research in biotech" doesn't scan to me like "biotech", it tells me you were a market researcher and you learned a range of skills that would apply to all products/industries.

Emphasize any quantitative skills/audience research/consumer insights experience you've got and you should be fine, most agencies have a similar function.
posted by downing street memo at 8:41 AM on June 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


Any tips on helping me distance myself from my biotech background? I know I will be successful in advertising/design.

It seems to me you are well-qualified to market biotech, which is a growing field that's populated with smaller companies that are more likely to contract out* for marketing than hire in-house. If you are willing to go it alone, then skip the resume and instead market yourself in your niche field using the tools you would use to market potential clients.

*They will use agencies ($$$) or sole-proprietor freelancers ($) depending on their budget.
posted by headnsouth at 8:42 AM on June 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


Answering this from the perspective that I made a transition from a technical/science background into writing position with tips from ask metafilter. Over the last few years,I get picked up by companies (including an occasional marketing type/advertising company) so I also answering from that perspective.

What I am going to recommend is to build on that skill set and on that basis, convince someone to open the door. Also, consider where you would fit in with your previous experience and knowledge. On that basis, I'm going to suggest medical communication companies, but the ones that are in advertising and marketing. Do not down play your background - you have the exact background to convince someone to open the doors.

Now when I was applying for different positions at these companies, but I was encouraged by a recruiter to use a functional resume (mainly because my backgroun/jobs were all over the map and they don't want to know that or care). They do want to do if you experience in the sciences, research, anything that applies to what you create( i.e. word,ppt, adobe,flash, whaever it is).You can provide a section at the end with samples and have links back to your portfolio or webpage. Do also list that you have done project management, competitive intelligence, etc. They do not need to know that you worked at Target, walked dogs, or whatever (not saying that you would do this--but they want to see skills related to the industry).

I would approach your cover letter in a different way.

First, look at their web page and find out what they are doing now (I know a place that you can check out to find some of this...but find out if they have an account in industry X or do digital media or do ipad apps, whatever it is.

Now write your cover letter to connect your background with those dots. If they have an account or two in industry X, tell them how you did competitive intelligence for (related area) in industry X. If you happen to have digital media samples, link to it. If you were part of a team that made an ipad app, list it. But do this per the company's current offerings.

Depending on your skill set,you may want to consider creating samples (I would talk to someone in the field first to see the quality of what they do before you attempt this). I did talk to someone who had a really hard time getting a position that he wanted at these companies and he got in by making extensive samples and interviewing over and over again -they did see his persistence and once he was hired/got experience, he was in forever (experience trumps everything in this industry). Just something to consider.

OP, I have a list of companies so do feel free to contact me and I can point- a few are marketing companies. You can take the list and do the googling to find similar advertising/marketing companies in your area. I would just send them your CV/resume- trust me these places are fast paced and ...I do this and it turns into projects and people who want to hire you for a job. LinkedIn is phenomenal for this industry, so you should also tweak your LinkedIn profile and may have many recruiters contacting you.
posted by Wolfster at 9:32 AM on June 29, 2012 [3 favorites]


Aside from the resume question, which i think people are doing a good job of answering, you should also focus your job search on agencies that specialize in pharma/healthcare. There are lots, and they are big, and they would probably love someone like you. And then once you've worked there for a while, you'll have agency experience, and it'll probably be more simple to transition to a more generalist agency environment.
posted by Kololo at 11:05 AM on June 29, 2012


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